“Our [Ghana] independence is meaningless unless it is linked up to the total liberation of the African continent”. Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first Prime Minister, who led and fought for the independence of Ghana from British colonial rule, uttered these famous words on the eve of Ghana’s independence- March 5, 1957. Before gaining our independence, Ghana was called the Gold Coast, after the major precious mineral the country was and still is blessed with.
Queen Elizabeth II waves to spectators as she and President of Ghana Kwame Nkrumah (r) drive into Black Star Square in an open top car, Accra, Ghana, November 9, 1961
Ghana and parts of Africa had been under colonial rule for about 75 years; we were the first country to gain independence from European colonialism in Africa…you know this already, right? The rest of Africa eventually got their independence from their colonial rulers – pick any African country of your choice and look up their struggle to (or should that be ‘for’?) their independence.
Kwame Nkrumah’s statement rung true back then and still does today; what does it mean to me independent though – what does the word actually mean? You do know since I work with words, I love to break them down when I am communicating. My dictionary defines independent simply as “not subject to control by others”. The operative word in that definition for me is control, which could also mean to manipulate, to dominate, to take possession.
It sure is a good thing that Ghana is independent; that Ghana is under no one’s control except Ghanaians themselves. The other news though is that Ghana is highly dependent on (or has totally acquiesced her authority to) other countries regarding some aspects of our lives and culture. From the languages we speak at home (many of us can’t speak our own languages, sadly) to the bedsheets that we sleep on at night, they all are created or imported from outside of Ghana.
By implication, we are being controlled by the cultures and lifestyles of other countries; we either are acquiescing our control of our identity or it’s being taken from us without realising. I think it is more of the former – we are giving up our freedom and identity as a people. How so, you may be wondering?
Let’s start with language; most of us speak English at home, at the expense of our own language. The situation is worsening as many tweenagers and even some 25-year-olds I have met, cannot speak their own Ghanaian language. You are not independent if you cannot speak your own language but rather speak solely in the language of the person whose control you fought to be freed from.
Let’s move on to tourism; Ghanaians (who can afford it) love to travel abroad and usually to the West (the UK & US predominantly). If you consider that an average trip to the West (from visa fees, plane fare, feeding, boarding, and shopping allowances) will cost a family of 4 close to US$20,000. That’s just one Ghanaian family; multiply that by say 200 families and your eyes should be watering at the amount of money us Ghanaians give freely to Western countries via tourism alone yearly. Couldn’t we begin to travel and learn more about our own continent if we truly are independent as a continent? How is it we can name the capital cities of some Western countries but cannot tell the names of the African neighbours that border Ghana?
May I venture into our diets? We import almost everything we eat-think about it. Flour (for bread and pastries) milk (for our beverages) eggs, oil, tomatoes, onions, smoked and fresh fish, chicken, beef…and the ever-popular rice! Do you know that once in the history of Ghana, we used to produce all these foods for ourselves? That was truly when we were independent – not dependent on other countries to supply us with basic foods for our own consumption.
I could go on to cite more examples of some of our actions and activities that have me questioning how truly independent we are as a nation; I have often wondered how tweenagers can contribute meaningfully and significantly to the independence of our country. On Saturday March 6, ask yourself, how can I contribute to Ghana’s true and total independence?